Think, for a moment, about how good it would feel to be a part of a music festival where over 200 of America’s top artists are all headlining for a great cause, funding a cure for a devastating disorder called Rett syndrome.
For over a decade, Houston-based photographer Dave Clements, along with his close friend Kevin Black and Kevin’s brother, Clint Black, have been raising awareness and funds for little known Rett syndrome. Their inspiration for the project comes from Cortney Black, Kevin’s daughter, who died in 2003 at age 16 from the debilitating disorder.
Dave and Kevin’s remarkable project is a black and white photography book called Raising A Hand.
Incorporating unique design and exceptional photo-quality paper, the coffee table book depicts all the ways artists use their hands during a performance. Each artist in the book has given their permission to be included, understanding the underlying theme is that they, individually and collectively, are ‘raising a hand’ for Rett.
Rett syndrome is a devastating neurological disorder that strikes mostly girls, occurring in about one of every 10,000 female births worldwide. Like Cortney, these precious girls are born normal and advance as you’d expect, up to about 12-18 months, at which point they start to regress to infancy.
They lose their ability to walk. They lose their ability to talk and also lose meaningful hand motions. They spend the rest of their lives totally dependent on others for their care. They are referred to as Silent Angels because they cannot share what they are thinking or feeling– they cannot tell their Mom or Dad that they love them, or verbalize their needs or wants.
“We want to help fund a cure so no one will have to go through what Kevin, his family and thousands of other families have gone through with their Silent Angels,” Dave says.
Please join our photographic “music festival.” Help the guys spread the word so that we can make Raising A Hand all that it can be. Researchers are closing in on a reversal. Please help us help them.
On behalf of Silent Angels everywhere, allow us to say what they cannot. “Thank you!”
Dave Clements was employed with ExxonMobil Corporation’s Marketing and Human Resources Management team for 33 years, prior to his retirement to the Greater Houston area. As a second career, Dave became a freelance photographer, where his skills paved the way for his becoming one of only two photographers for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The Houston Texans, NRG Corporation, ExxonMobil Corporation, and the U. S. Olympic Committee along with the current President and Vice President Of The United States have enlisted Dave’s photographic expertise.
During his spare time, Dave blends his love for music and photography, taking thousands of photos of his favorite music artists, which has culminated in the creation of Raising A Hand.
Dave continues to provide pro bono services for many charitable organizations across Texas, including Rettsyndrome.org, the Crighton Foundation, Friends of the Flag Foundation, Boys and Girls Country, New Danville, Sounds of Texas Music Series and the DePelchin Center.
Raising funds for Rett research until a cure is found is an ongoing priority in Dave’s life.
His motto is one of benevolence, “It’s all about the girls.”
From a very early age, Kevin Black’s family knew he had music running through his veins. With the help of only one formal guitar lesson and his dad’s tiny clock radio, nine-year-old Kevin mastered Merle’s “Okie From Muskogee.”
Since then, Kevin has been musically tuned-in to what people want to hear—leaving behind the demands and constraints of major record labels for the personal satisfaction of making his own kind of music.
His name is synonymous with “patriotic,” and his a cappella rendition of “God Bless the USA” has won the hearts of many, ushering in the opportunity for Kevin to play at prestigious political events. His latest record, “Kevin Black: SOLD OUT– Live at Dosey Doe,” proves that he has carved his own niche in the hearts of his fans. Those who follow the singer/songwriter’s career know that he creates a lively, party atmosphere at every show, bringing to the table heartfelt lyrics, impressive fret-board ability and powerful vocals.
Kevin’s interest in Raising A Hand is deeply personal, having lost his 16-year-old daughter, Cortney, to Rett syndrome. His signature song, “A Tear for You,” is written as a tribute to Cortney.
For the past decade, he has devoted his time and talent to the Rett cause, playing a major role in helping raise funds for research that will, hopefully, one day soon result in a cure.
Kevin continues to perform not only public events, but private and corporate, as well. His outstanding reputation as a top-notch performer is known within the borders of the Lone Star State and beyond. When Kevin’s not on the road, he’s “raising his hand” in his daughter’s memory.
Dave’s Personal Statement
When I first came up with the idea of doing a book for charity, I really had no idea what I was getting myself, and others, into. Fortunately, my career was filled with hard work so, in this regard, I was well prepared. Discovering so many aspects of creating a book came as a daunting surprise.
Throughout this journey, there has never been a moment that I didn’t trust that our team of dedicated volunteers could turn this crazy idea into a reality.
While the uncharted territory of what we were getting into is now a much clearer journey, what still excites and motivates me the most is the “unknown” of how this story will evolve. There are many paths that we can follow. Which ones will we take? And where will they lead us?
We are certain about our goal: To raise awareness and dollars to fund a cure for Rett syndrome.
Just how many more people will know about RTT as a result of our effort, and will care enough to make a difference, is impossible for us to predict or measure.
The research community is making terrific progress towards finding drugs that make a positive difference in these girls’ lives. Will we make an equal difference?
How many people will join the 200 artists in our book to ‘raise a hand’ for Rett syndrome and the little girls afflicted with this dreadful disorder? How many people will spend $35 to make a difference in someone else’s life they may never meet?
Certainly, we are hoping that people around our great country and perhaps beyond will share their money and our story because either they love music, or good photography or they need something to decorate their coffee table, or love little girls.
Perhaps they are fans of one of our featured artists, or maybe they have a favorite song that was written, covered or released by one of our performers. Perhaps they are a Texan and want to help another Texan, or better yet, an American who wants to help another American, or a parent who wants to “raise a hand” for another parent.
While we may be clueless as to how the story ends, we move forward with a firm belief that our “tablet of hope” will do the job we intend – to help us fund a cure and spread the word about a disorder that has drastically changed so many young lives, and the lives of families that love and care for them.
We know that once we reach our destination, we can look back and say, “It was perhaps a road less traveled, but certainly a trip worth taking.”
After all, it’s all about the girls.
All press releases should be added as they become available, with the most current being at the top.
1) Where is Raising A Hand available?
When it becomes available, people can obtain the book through our website, and likely through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. We hope also that it will be available in all Hastings Book stores throughout Texas. Also, we expect some of our supporting performers to have Raising A Hand available at their merchandise/souvenir table while touring, and on their website.
2) What is the price of the book and how will I receive it?
The retail price is $35 plus a $6.95 U.S. Shipping and Handling fee per book. Raising A Hand will be shipped via USPS. The book will be available through raisingahand.com for a minimum donation of $35, payable to Raising A Hand For Rett Foundation.
3) Is the purchase of the book tax deductible?
Twenty-five dollars of every book purchased can be considered a donation to Raising A Hand For Rett, a 501 c 3. The $7.95 per book for Shipping & Handling is not tax deductible.
4) How will I get my copy of the book?
The book will be shipped via USPS if purchased through the website (raisingahand.com). Additionally, Dave and Kevin will be doing book signings throughout the U.S. and you may purchase Raising A Hand in various cities on the tour.
5) When and where will the book signings occur?
More information will be available at a later date. Please sign up for our newsletter and we will provide updates when and where Kevin and Dave will be touring.
6) Where are the proceeds going?
Raising a Hand for Rett is a 501 [c] whose mission is to raise awareness for Rett syndrome and help fund a cure. It is expected that revenue from the sale Raising A Hand will go to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation or another similar organization, earmarked for Rett research.
7) Have any artists refused to be in the book?
We are pleased to say that almost every artist that we requested to be in Raising A Hand has agreed.
8) Will there be a book tour?
Kevin and Dave are hoping to visit every state to promote our project over the 24 months following the release of the book.
9) Why aren’t some prominent artists such as Elton John, Carlos Santana or Emmylou Harris in the book?
There are many more artists that we would have loved to offer the opportunity to be included, yet there was a limitation on the number we could include or Dave had not yet had the opportunity to photograph them.
10) Could there be a Volume 2 of Raising A Hand?
Certainly anything is possible; however, no decision on a Volume 2 would occur until well down the road.
What the Artists are Saying
Hands are raised in anger. Hands are raised in supplication. Hands are raised in salutation. But best, hands are raised in accountability. As in, ‘Count me in.’ Joining the throngs who support – whatever it is. In this case, those with Rett Syndrome. Those whose lives were cut short at an early age. Those whose potential could never be realized. Think of them, their families and friends. Lend a hand. A hand offered, raised or otherwise…
British singer/songwriter Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull)
There are so many good souls out there like Dave and Kevin and people want to know that. They want to hear about it. Everybody wants to know that that still exists in this world. I know it matters. If I didn’t think that, truly, [my world view] could ‘go dark’ real quick.
Songwriter Tony Arata, who penned Garth Brooks’ “The Dance”
I’m just thrilled to death to know that my picture’s gonna be in the same book with Gene Simmons and Billy Gibbons!!… Hell, man. That’s cool!
Country Music Artist Mark Chesnutt
I see hands raised in appreciation and waving back and forth or holding a light– a happy and positive experience for all and a symbol of unity and undying love. Let us raise our hands together for those who have fallen from Rett syndrome and for those who now suffer and raise a positive example of our unified hope for a cure for Rett’s disease high up in the air–others will follow.
Grand Funk’s Mark Farner
I am honored to be a part of this book, and collection of great artists– all putting a hand up for Rett, to say ‘count me in.’
Texas Music Artist Shake Russell
I cannot imagine what it is like to watch your child suffer with something as difficult as Rett Syndrome. I can only do my best to help raise awareness and hopefully one day there will be a cure.
Grammy-nominated Texas Music Artist, Pat Green
Raise a hand and perhaps raise a voice. Join together in a volunteer effort to make someone else’s life a little better.
Winner of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” Season 5, Michael Grimm